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Monday, November 30, 1998 Published at 12:09 GMT


Police get new powers to stop truancy

The police will now be able to take pupils back to school

The police will be playing a greater role in the government's campaign to reduce truancy among schoolchildren.

New measures, which come into force in England and Wales on Tuesday, will allow the police to take children who are out of school without permission back to the classroom.

The new powers, introduced in the Crime and Disorder Act, will not allow the police to arrest children for playing truant, but will enable them to hold children until they are placed back in the care of teachers.

[ image: Paul Boateng:
Paul Boateng: "Bunking off school is not acceptable"
Courts will also be given an extended role in stopping truancy, with new powers to force parents to take children to school or to require them to attend parenting classes.

The Home Office Minister, Paul Boateng, said the new legislation addressed the link between truancy and street crime.

"Youngsters who skip school, loiter on the streets or cause disruption in shopping centres when they should be in school, are not only a nuisance to the community but are damaging their own futures," he said.

The strengthened role of the police is part of the government's drive to cut truancy by a third by 2002.

The Education Secretary, David Blunkett, launched a £500m anti-truancy initiative earlier this year in an effort to reduce the 10% of 10 to 15-year-olds currently believed to play truant each week.

Local authorities are to be given targets for reducing rates of truancy and extra funds are available for projects designed to cut absenteeism.

Performance tables to be published on Tuesday will also include data showing levels of truancy in individual schools.

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